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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:An assessment of the traditional 'gacaca' courts in Rwanda: lessons for communities in Uganda
Author:Among, Hope
Periodical:East African Journal of Peace and Human Rights (ISSN 1021-8858)
Geographic terms:Rwanda
customary courts
nation building
Abstract:An assessment of the effectiveness of the traditional 'gacaca' courts for realizing justice and reconciliation in Rwanda was conducted with a view to provide valuable lessons for Uganda, where communities affected by conflict have articulated the heed to adopt traditional justice processes for a similar purpose. By December 2003, the formal courts of Rwanda had only prosecuted 9700 persons out of 120,000 in prison and 761,000 accused. To cope with the backlog, but also to facilitate truth telling, national reconciliation and reintegration, the government of Rwanda decided to adopt and modify the traditional, open-air 'gacaca' ('lawn' or 'grass') courts. The jurisdiction of 'gacaca' courts was extended to offences relating to rape and murder. National courts retained the jurisdiction to prosecute the 'masterminds' of the 1994 genocide. By 2011, some survivors continued to express discontent in the 'gacaca' system as lenient punishments like community service could not be equated to the loss and trauma suffered during the genocide. The reconciliatory impact of the courts was gravely limited by reprisals, false accusations, insincerity, mistrust and corruption. According to the author, the contribution of the 'gacaca' courts towards ending impunity and realizing national reconciliation is commendable. Both the negative and negative aspects of the 'gacaca' experience could inform a similar approach in Uganda. Notes, ref., sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]